An awe-inspiring Irish wedding with an autumn theme

23 Mar 2020

Caitriona Holdsworth and John Hughes celebrated their Irish heritage in an autumn wedding, which welcomed 120 guests

How did you meet?

At work.

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Tell us about the proposal.

On a country walk in Surrey’s Box Park with a beautiful view.

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What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?

Autumnal. I love dark, rich tones and this went well with the mood of the venue, particularly the ceremony room.

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What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?

Ballybeg House in County Wicklow. I’d seen it online before we visited and knew I’d love it. We wanted to get married in Wicklow as we have lots of family there and the Wicklow mountains are very special to us. Ballybeg House had a stunning backdrop of the mountains while having the more low key, rustic vibe we were after. The real selling point was the stunning ceremony room.

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How did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress?

I really struggled between two very different dresses both from the Justin Alexander Signature range, however the shop owners offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse and I ended up taking both dresses. A more simple understated one for the day and a stunning beading number for the evening.

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Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?

My bridesmaids included my three best friends and John's two sisters. The dresses were a mixture of styles from Jenny Yoo. I wanted something that complemented each bridesmaid and something they all felt happy and confident in.

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What did the mother of the bride wear?

My mum wore a stunning dress from Roland Mouret. It was a little different to the standard mother of the bride style, but suited her beautifully and complemented the colour scheme.

Where did you find your suits?

The suits came from Edit Suits in London. John had met them before for work suits and knew they’d do a great job.

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Did you hire a wedding planner? How did they help?

The venue package included the services of a co-ordinator, Tee from Pairs and Peaches Wedding Co-ordinators, and she was amazing. She managed everything across the whole weekend and co-ordinated all suppliers. She dressed the venue and worked closely with the caterers and the florist. It wouldn’t have been as amazing without her.

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

My brief was simply autumnal, full and rich. For the bridemaids, I went for hoops as I felt they were a little less formal and more fun. The floral arrangements were continued through the ceremony room and the marquee.

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Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

As most of our guests were coming to Ireland for the first time, lots of details revolved around this:

  • We had mini bottles of Jameson Irish Whiskey and Irish fudge for the favours.
  • The cake was a Guinness cake. It was by Croft Cakes and featured a black and gold colour scheme, with lemon, salted caramel and Guinness flavoured tiers. We also had Guinness cupcakes with Baileys icing and a cheese stack. 

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  • The drinks reception included mini Guinness.
  • We also had Irish dancers (Celtic Dance Fusion) before the band came on (Sway Social) to get the party started and this worked really well.

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  • Other details included sparklers, hangover kits (including Wicklow Outdoors t-shirts supplied by my extended family’s campling store).
  • We had a pizza van and day two included traditional Irish music and an Irish beef stew. For this, they turned the ceremony room into a banquet hall. 

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

Amazing! I was so nervous all morning, but as soon as I was in the room I was just so excited. I loved seeing all our friends and family there for us and feeling all the love in the room.

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How did you make the ceremony personal to you?

Our readings were given by my mum and my brother-in-law as a way of uniting the two families. We didn't want a religious ceremony but equally didn’t want a standard civil ceremony, so we chose a humanist ceremony which focuses predominantly on love. I worked through what would be said with Emma Sides, our celebrant, who was awesome.

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What was your most memorable moment?

Probably the evening when we were a little more relaxed. I loved our first dance and then generally partying with each other and all our guests. Also, the speeches were brilliant – they were pretty memorable.

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

I didn’t really find it challenging. I really enjoyed planning it.

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What was the most important investment for you?

Probably the venue, because the atmosphere was so important to us. Second to that was definitely drink; we appreciated people travelling to Ireland for us and so wanted the drinks to be on us.

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

Someone Like You – Van Morrison. Finding a song was tricky, as we didn’t want something too cheesy or cliché, but we also have quite different tastes. This was one of the few we agreed on and it wasn’t too soppy for us. We had a couple of dance lessons as well, so we weren’t completely useless on the dancefloor.

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Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

Just to take it all in! Take it for what it is as on the day you can’t control anything, so go with the flow and enjoy it. 

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Where did you go on honeymoon?

We took a six-week break from work for our honeymoon and we went about one month after the wedding. The trip included Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and Langkawi.

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Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?

Use a wedding co-ordinator or wedding planner if you can, as that helps alleviate a lot of the work and therefore stress. I would also say once you decide on a theme, dress and suppliers etc. then stick to it! Be confident in your decisions as indecisiveness will just prove stressful.

Steal their style:

Photography: IG Studio Photography
Videography: Vowart Films 
Hair: Aisling Hamil
Make-up: Lyndsey Cavanagh Make Up
Cake: Croft Cake Design 
Catering: Molly's Larder and Dough Kitchen
Band: Sway Social 
Dance group: Celtic Dance Fusion

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